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ASU Vs. UCLA: Arizona State Football Prepares For Crucial Pac-12 South Battle

The Arizona State Sun Devils have a crucial must-win game against the UCLA Bruins to stay on track for the Pac-12 South title.

Christian Petersen

What are your keys to this week's game against UCLA?

Rich Gray, Bold Saguaros: I say this every single week, but the tackling has to improve. For the second week in a row, the Sun Devils will face a top-50 ranked offense after not doing so in the first 6 games of the season. Some have suggested that weak early schedule not only inflated ASU's record, but made the defense appear better than it really is. Saturday will be a big chance for this unit to prove those people wrong.

Special teams will be another key. Graham has flipped back and forth between Jon Mora and Alex Garroute for the third straight week now. Returns have also been a problem. Jamal Miles seems to have lost his speed this season, so someone else will need to step up there.

Offensively, ASU needs to get back to the high-octane offense. To do that, DJ Foster and Cameron Marshall will have to get it going on the ground, while the wide receivers (who were intimidated at the line by Oregon) will need to get back to creating plays in open space. Taylor Kelly struggled against the Ducks by trying to do too much. I expect Kelly to bounce back this Saturday in Tempe.

Brad Denny, House of Sparky: The threats from last week carry over almost exactly from last week: stop the run and keep Taylor Kelly upright.

UCLA is a very proficient running team that can pound it with Johnathan Franklin or hurt a defense with the scrambling of Brett Hundley. As we saw last week, ASU struggled stopping both types, and should Sutton miss the game, they'll likely be vulnerable up the middle.

On the other side of the ball, the Sun Devils were unable to protect Kelly, and the normally efficient quarterback ended up making several costly mistakes. The Bruins' 3-4 defense will be applying a lot of pressure, especially along the edges, and if the offensive line is unable to hold, it could be a long afternoon in Tempe.

What's your prediction for this week's game against UCLA?

Rich Gray, Bold Saguaros: I'm just not sold on UCLA. The Bruins looked great against Nebraska earlier in the year, but struggled mightily against Cal and Utah, two team ASU beat. Plus, I think the Sun Devils will be on a mission to show the Pac-12 they are not as bad as Oregon made them look last Thursday. Being familiar with Noel Mazzone and his offense should help ASU on defense, with or without Sutton.

ASU 34 UCLA 23

Brad Denny, House of Sparky: This should be a very even and hotly contested game, especially with so many South division implications at stake. Both teams should be able to spring enough big plays to keep things exciting, but in the end, I think the Sun Devils are able to make just a few more than the Bruins and win their Homecoming game 34-28.